Murdered journalist remembered at Belfast May Day parade

Murdered journalist Lyra McKee has been remembered during a May Day parade in Belfast.

A special tribute was paid to Ms McKee as the parade assembled at Writer’s Square beside St Anne’s Cathedral where last month Prime Minister Theresa May and Irish president Michael D Higgins were among those who attended her funeral.

The parade was led by a new banner declaring: “Workers’ Rights are Human Rights”, in tribute to Ms McKee as well as all workers facing violence and intimidation.

As the procession made its way around Belfast for the annual event, members of the NUJ stepped out and stood in front of Belfast City Hall to remember Ms McKee.

Members of all the trade unions taking part in the parade joined the NUJ in applauding Ms McKee.

NUJ Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said she was remembered with applause because she was someone who was bright and vibrant.

“The theme of the parade this year is ‘workers rights’ are human rights’. Lyra was denied the most fundamental right of all, which was the right to life,” he said.

“We decided on applause because we felt it was wrong in the first instance to salute Lyra in silence. She was someone who was bright and vibrant. She was important to the trade union movement, she was important to the LGBT+ movement and she was important as a worker and as a force for good within the community.

“This is a community celebration so it was entirely appropriate that we should celebrate it within the wider context of May Day.”

Owen Reidy, assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said it was “all the more poignant with the recent callous murder of Lyra McKee”.

“Her pointless murder is a reminder that we cannot take the peace process for granted and her life and murder must not be in vain,” he said.

“It also motivates us in the trade union movement, as the largest truly cross-community civic society group in Northern Ireland, to stand up for peace, pluralism and diversity and all that is good about our society.”

He went on to urged the political leadership in Northern Ireland to agree to restore devolution after almost two years of Stormont not functioning.

“Workers in both the public and private sectors are missing out on decisions which are legally dependent upon the signature of devolved ministers but morally overdue and causing real hardship to workers who need pay rises and decent working environments, and not excuses,” he said.

“That is why the trade union movement has been calling for a representative forum of Social Dialogue for Northern Ireland whereby we can seek to mitigate the harsh edges of Brexit and propose practical and realistic evidence-based policy solutions to the problems our society and economy faces.

“We therefore come together today representing the interests and hopes of the 200,000 workers and their families in Northern Ireland and we remember Lyra and demand that this society moves forward to a more stable, just and civilised place.”

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